Good morning, happy Saturday and blessings.
Do we constantly criticize others? Do we constantly compare ourselves to others to justify ourselves? Let’s learn from Luke 18:9-14 that we are all in the same boat and that God alone justifies.
When we are criticized or graded, we are vulnerable and exposed. We may wonder and think, “What will people say or think of me? Is what they are saying true or accurate? Do they truly see my talents and abilities, and who I really am? Will their feedback at least be constructive?” We can get anxiety or worry about what people will say or think of us as our standing and image before others is critiqued, or even questioned. Today we see a similar situation in our text with Jesus’ parable. What determines our standing and acceptance before God?
Jesus helps us with this question by directing this parable towards “some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.” Jesus is going to teach us what really determines our standing and acceptance before God. To do this, He presents to us a pair, (what a surprise). He gives us a Pharisee and tax collector. The Pharisee thinks that his relationship with God is based on his own works and righteousness. We see this through his actions.
The Pharisee stands by himself to pray. He wants to bring the attention and focus to himself. Now, what does the tax collector think? He gives us his answer. The tax collector sees his relationship based on God’s mercy and grace. He acknowledges his sin and unworthiness and reflects that in his actions. Unlike the Pharisee, the tax collector keeps his distance and stands far away. The one who is declared righteous is the tax collector who relied on God’s grace and mercy. He is not righteous from anything that he had done, but because of what Christ has done. He and us are declared righteous because of Jesus.
Luke tells us that Jesus tells this parable because some trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and that they treated others with contempt. In other words, they thought that they could approach God on their own, and that their lives were acceptable before Him. But Jesus says this is not the case, and it is the reason why He tells us this parable. This is the challenge question for you today: "How do I approach God?"